Three days passed quickly.
During these few days, although Chengfeng was home, none of the people usually friendly with the Li family visited to check on them. Even their neighbours avoided them like they had the plague whenever they saw the Li family members out and about.
Everyone knew what happened.
The Young Master Li was not dead, and upon his return, he had murdered the arrogant monster You San, even driving away all the other gangsters circling the area to take advantage of the chaos. But that did not mean it was the end of everything.
The person behind all of this must be Young Master Zhan, perhaps even the prefecture chief, Zhang Junheng. Everyone was waiting to see what they both would do next.
No one expected the Li family to be alive after this whole ordeal, nor were they bold enough to interact with the Li family.
Early that morning, crowds stood along both sides of the road north of the city. All of them looked happy, at least on the surface.
Whenever their smile or joy was gone, a gangster would come forward to kick them. “Hey you, did someone die in your family? Why the frown? I’ll actually kill your family if you don’t smile now!”
The gangsters were all in regular clothing, mixed among the crowd as they maintained the celebratory atmosphere.
There was a large group carrying Wanmin umbrellas with many tiny paper strips hanging off the edges with phrases of worship.
“Ah Qian!” Brother Bai, the one who previously swam in the icy river, sneezed. He wiped mucus off his nose and stood on his toes to look. “Eh, it’s here, it’s here! Get ready!”
Everyone turned to see a luxurious four-horse carriage heading slowly towards them at the end of the road. Next to the horse carriage was a human carriage lifted by four people.
Everyone knew these were Young Master Zhan and Cheng’an City’s Prefecture Chief Zhang Junheng.
“Quick, quick!” Brother Bai glared at his subordinates and they gave orders immediately. The crowds suddenly erupted in passionate cheers while an old man in front hobbled to the middle of the road knelt down and yelled, “Thank the heavens!”
The soldier standing in front of the carriage to make way shouted, ‘What are you doing! Get out of the way!”
Zhang Junheng ordered the carriage to stop and walked down, shouting sternly at the soldier, “That’s enough!” He then walked up slowly and regarded the man suspiciously. “Old man, what is this about?”
The old man looked emotional. “You personally led your soldiers into battle to kill the beast, with no regards to your own safety, just to protect all our lives! I represent the one hundred thousand citizens of Cheng’an to thank you, Sir!”
He then struggled to kowtow.
Zhang Junheng was red with pride, quickly helping the old man up as he yelled, “I may not be a very gifted man but as the chief of one hundred thousand people, if did not volunteer to protect you all against the beast, that would be betraying both the heavens and my people! Old man, get up. I cannot accept this!”
Brother Bai suddenly yelled amidst the crowd, “Prefecture Chief, you protected your people bravely, you can accept this!”
All the other gangsters quickly yelled, “Yeah!”
The filler crowds all showed assent. “Yeah!” Then they all fell to their knees.
Brother Bai secretly waved and the people carrying the Wanmin umbrellas rushed forward to surround the prefecture chief. Zhan Qisheng leaned against the wall of his horse carriage and opened the curtains, smirking as he watched. He whispered, “I have met shameless people but I’ve never met anything like that before.”
His servant, Uncle Li, smiled. “Zhang Junheng was a talented scholar often ranking top of the scoreboards. Would he willingly become the prefecture chief of such an obscure city all his life?”
Zhan Qisheng snickered. “He thinks he can put up an act, take the credit and leave?”
Uncle Li smiled. “Even mice dig their own tunnels. Every person will have their own methods to success.”
Zhang Junheng pressed his arms downwards and yelled, “Everyone, get up, get up!”
A group of singers started to sing songs of worship, praising Zhang Junheng’s brave deeds.
Li Chengfeng, who had planned to maintain a low profile outside his home but now had to hide in a street, was also disgusted. “This old man really knows how to put on a show!”
Su Yuehan was leading two horses with two large bundles tied to their backs. She whispered, “Young Master, let’s take another path?”
He had already bid his family and servants goodbye, all unwilling to see him go. Green Bead had cried so much her makeup was ruined, falling into his arms and refusing to get up. Su Yuehan kept her head down despite all the envious stares she received, setting off with Li Chengfeng.
They had arrived at the city gates only to witness this disgusting act.
Li Chengfeng looked at Zhang Junheng among the crowd and Zhan Qisheng’s carriage, then thought about the servants who died and his bed-ridden father. He felt rage welling up as he laughed coldly. “Hmmph, let’s watch! It’s rare to witness such a shameless show.”
As he spoke, the gangsters behind the street started to release many kites, each with praise for the prefecture chief written on them. One even had a portrait of him drawn on.
Brother Bai yelled immediately, “The Prefecture Chief rises to the heavens!”
One of the leaders continued to suck up to him, “Sir, you are the hope of our people!”
Every civilian expressed their agreement as Li Chengfeng inhaled sharply. “There’s more? Can’t believe he can even do that! Hmmph!”
As he spoke, he took the advantage of the crowd to take out a blade as wide as a thumb. When no one was paying attention, he flicked his wrist and threw the blade at the kite with Zhang Junheng’s portrait.
No one noticed at first until someone yelled, “Aiya, the string broke!”
Brother Bai’s eyes widened, glaring at the gangsters holding the kit strings. They were all equally confused, shaking in their boots. The crowd did not know what to say either.
The noisy street fell silent and became very awkward. Only the prefecture chief watched ‘himself’ fly higher and higher, his eye twitching.
Brother Bai had an idea. He slapped his thigh and yelled, “Aiya, the prefecture chief will rise up to the heavens!”
Everyone snapped awake and agreed, “Yeah, rising high is a good omen!”
Zhang Junheng’s complexion finally improved but just as his people were sucking up to him hard, they heard a bright voice that could not even be covered by the crowd.
“Mother, look! The prefecture chief is going to heaven!” The young voice was like a strike of lightning.
The street fell silent again, everyone exchanging looks with odd expressions. Some looked up at the flying ’chief’, some secretly looked at Zhang Junheng’s darkened face while the rest looked at the lady of the Xiong family carrying her five-year-old. She stood trembling as the crowd backed far away from her!
[*Note: to ascend into the heavens/ fly up into the sky = a metaphor for death; hence the crowd’s struggle to explain that the broken kite was a good omen]